Classic Adventure Games – How Sierra and LucasArts Designed a Genre. How Stagnation Almost Ended It

Classic Adventure Games – How Sierra and LucasArts Designed a Genre. How Stagnation Almost Ended It

Genres are alive. Like other living things,
genres are created, they mature, they adapt, they age, and they die. Well, sort of. A ‘dead’
genre is a misnomer. It might become rare and niche, but no genre is truly dead. They
can split and shatter, and be remade and remixed into a dozen others. And they can be reborn,
come back in vogue, and fade away again. I think there might be no genre with a more
interesting history than the Adventure Game. It spawned 40 years ago as little more than
text, adapted and changed with new hardware and new design sensibilities, became a juggernaut
in the 90’s, collapsed, and re-emerged to live again. And so we’re making a two-part
series on the history and design of the Adventure Game, and today’s video is the first half
of this story: Classic Adventure Games. But first, a quick word from today’s sponsor,
Skillshare! I’m a big fan of Skillshare – I’ve been
using their courses for years now, and thanks to them I’ve learned a ton and become much
more efficient at editing videos. Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands
of classes on dozens of topics. They’ve got some great motion graphics courses
full of techniques that I’ve been working into almost every episode of Design Doc. They’ve
got great classes on video editing, graphic design, and animation, my favorites, but also
photography, marketing, web development, and so many other subjects, that you could use
too. You can get access to everything with Premium
Membership, for just $10 a month, which is way cheaper and more convenient than in-person
classes or workshops. You can try it out with a free 2 month trial by signing up with our
link below. The 1970s were a decade of discovery for video
games. No gaming conventions had been established. Even the idea of telling a substantial story
in a game was new. Will Crowther and Don Woods developed Colossal Cave Adventure, the first
known example of interactive fiction, anywhere. You and I would immediately recognize it as
a text adventure, but this was cutting edge design in 1975. The game would unfold as a
series of lines and paragraphs, and based on clues in the text, you’d type up what
you wanted your character to do next. ‘Go East’ ‘Pick Up Rock’. For the time,
it was amazing. It was like a book where you could choose your own direction, and where
the story adapted to the circumstances that you had a part in creating. Well, as long
as the text parser understood what you were typing. But in a world where your other gaming
options were this, or this, literally any story that couldn’t be summarized in 10
words was a killer app by itself. More developers made more text adventures
over the next several years. Here’s where Zork and Planetfall get their start. Some
developers also realized you could adapt existing licensed properties into the text adventure
format really well. Popular books like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The
Hobbit got their own text adventures. The games slowly became more complex, longer,
and better written, but home computing was opening new opportunities to tweak the format. Roberta Williams, founder of Sierra, had an
idea. She thought the newer computers coming out in the early 80s, with their slick, uh….
having graphics…. could help make the adventure genre way more popular. She wrote the script
for Mystery House in three weeks and got her husband and Sierra co-founder Ken Williams
to program the thing. It was the first adventure game with graphics, and was a surprise hit,
selling tens of thousands of copies over mail-order. It started Sierra’s Hi-Res games series,
which would become their first success and establish them as major adventure game developers.
Yep, this was so hi-res in 1980 that they named their entire series ‘hi-res’. Sierra’s games caught the eye of IBM in
1982. IBM was looking for a killer app for their new home computer, the PCjr. It boasted
16 color graphics and a sound chip that sounded much better than the built-in PC speaker of
the day. They asked Roberta and Ken to make something stunning for their new machine:
a replayable, complex, and dynamic adventure game. Roberta took inspiration from folklore
and fairy tales that she liked to read as a child, and developed the story for what
became King’s Quest. The game would be a full screen, colorful, animated adventure,
with lots of puzzles to solve in a modeled world the characters moved through instead
of showing static scenes on screen. The characters could even move with the arrow keys, instead
of going through the chore of typing out directions! IBM was sold, and 18 months later, the first
King’s Quest was released. The game was a critical success, but the PCjr
sold terribly, and sales of King’s Quest were just as bad at launch. It was a big problem
for computer game developers in the 80’s. The home computer ecosystem was extremely
fragmented, and software sold for each system was largely incompatible with other computers.
If you wanted a true blockbuster game, you might have to port it to a half-dozen systems,
and you’d likely have to do it from scratch for each port. To help speed things along,
Sierra was also developing their own adventure game engine: the Adventure Game Interpreter,
or AGI. King’s Quest 1 was built on it, and thanks to that foresight, Sierra spent
less time porting the game to other platforms. They also got a stroke of good fortune. Soon
after the game’s release, Tandy happened to develop an IBM-PC compatible platform that
did take off, and now that the game could run on lots of popular platforms, sales of
King’s Quest soared. AGI was the engine used for the next several King’s Quest games,
but also Space Quest, Police Quest, and others. It made it much faster to develop and distribute,
and much easier for those games to sell well. The engine also contributed to the series’
similar look and feel. With their production pipeline humming, Sierra was able to crank
out hit after hit in the 80’s. That was sometimes in spite of the text engine
interface. The UX of typing in commands was a weak link in the design of adventure games.
On its surface it seems like a very free-form way to interact with a game – just type whatever
it is you want to happen. But in practice, players were very often frustrated with just
how limiting the text parser was. Misspell anything, use a synonym, describe an object
wrong, or try to do anything outside of a very rigid set of verbs, nouns, and tasks,
and the game would screech to a halt. There had to be a better way. The mid 80’s started to see some games get
away from the text parser, and Japan led the way. Planet Mephius, created by Japanese developer
Eiji Yokoyama, had allowed limited mouse controls and a command menu system in addition to the
traditional text control. Ports of other adventure games on the NES basically had to use a cursor
system to work nicely with a controller. But it was LucasArts who would bring the point-and-click
adventure to a much wider audience. LucasArts was already a well-funded branch
of Lucasfilm when they decided to dip their toes into the graphical adventure game market.
They had already made a text-parsing adventure game in an adaptation of the movie Labyrinth,
but in 1987 Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick designed their first point-and-click adventure game:
Maniac Mansion. To help make it, they created an adventure game engine of their own: the
SCUMM engine. From a technical perspective, the SCUMM engine
fixed many of the same problems that Sierra’s game engines were fixing. Separating game
concepts from the engine allowed them to both quickly iterate on characters, game scenarios,
and the game script, while also letting the programmers more easily port the game to Amiga,
Macs, DOS, Windows, and others. The SCUMM engine let LucasArts iterate very
quickly, and they would crank out many successful games over the next several years. Maniac
Mansion would spawn a sequel, Day of the Tentacle. The Monkey Island series became very popular.
Thanks to being under the umbrella of Lucasfilm, they made several fantastic Indiana Jones
adventure games. Ron Gilbert would also start Humongous Entertainment, which licensed the
SCUMM engine and would use it to make even more popular adventure games geared towards
kids. But LucasArts wasn’t just putting out the
same type of adventure games as everyone else. There was a distinct design sensibility to
their games. Ron Gilbert wanted to fix many of the shortcomings he saw in the standard
adventure game design of the time. He hated typing out commands, and designed
the games to be fully point-and-click, showing all of the actions the game allowed, and letting
players click on objects to interact with them. LucasArts’ puzzle design was not as
obtuse as Sierra’s on average, with clearer goals and subgoals, and with solutions that
seemed obvious in retrospect, instead of arbitrary. They avoided having players find ‘dead ends’,
deaths, or other unfixable states a player could wind up in. The King’s Quest series
had been infamous for having unsolvable puzzles caused by something the player had done or
forgotten to do hours before. LucasArts games also tried to avoid strict real-time timer
based puzzles. Players could more often think through problems at their own pace. And the
tone of LucasArts games generally leaned towards slapstick comedy, which, thanks to some great
writers, they nailed in game after game. Both Sierra and LucasArts had settled into
their niches, and cranked out hits one after another. Sierra made 4 Kings Quest games,
2 Space Quests, a Police Quest, a Leisure Suit Larry, and a half dozen other games on
AGI in a span of 6 years. Then they made an update to their engine, called SCI, and made
ALL OF THESE. Yep. Still going. They made a lot. In one decade. LucasArts made Maniac Mansion and its sequel Day of the Tentacle, three Monkey Island games, Zak McKracken, two Indiana Jones games, Loom, Sam and Max,
The Dig, and Full Throttle on SCUMM at roughly the same time. The engines that let Sierra and LucasArts
release so many games so quickly were only letting them make games with very similar
core designs. Sierra games running on AGI and SGI largely had similar looks and feels.
Same with SCUMM engine games. And the shortcomings of the genre were becoming more apparent.
There was still a lot of pixel hunting. The games sometimes suffered from a lack of direction.
Inventory puzzles could still be nonsense, and devolve into rubbing two items together
randomly until they stuck. Even just the march of time with year after year of largely similar
games were taking their toll. The formula was getting stale. While Sierra and LucasArts were humming along
at the top, there was a little studio and a big technological advancement that were
about to blow the adventure game market wide open. The year is 1993. Up until now, games
were severely limited in size. Games came in bundles of 3 ½ inch floppy disks that
each held only about a megabyte and a half of data. But that was about to change. CD-ROM
drives were just now becoming mainstream, and with them you could fit 700 megabytes
on a single disc. You could now cram tons of photorealistic
graphics and real recorded audio in your game! And that’s just what a small developer named
Cyan did. They took inspiration from Jules Verne’s novel ‘The Mysterious Island’
and made a fully-rendered 3D adventure game called Myst. It was a calm, serene, design.
An adventure game geared towards adults, featuring a completely minimalistic UI and an anonymous
main character that was designed to be a stand-in for the player. Players could get lost for
hours in the game’s surreal dream-like landscapes, filled with puzzles without time pressure,
and just like LucasArts games, no real way to fall into a fail-state. Myst and other early CD games looked leaps
and bounds better than their competition, and Myst became a blockbuster hit. A game
that reached a much broader audience than the standard computer games of the day. Yeah, under the surface the games were still
point and click interactions and puzzles whose answers kinda sorta barely made sense, but
LOOK AT HOW GOOD THIS GAME LOOKS! (yes i know its not great now get in the 1993 mindset
cmon) The CD-ROM had its killer app. Sales were unbelievable. Myst became the greatest
selling PC game to that point, a crown it would hold for 7 years and only give up to
The Sims. Suddenly, the 3D rendered graphical adventure was extremely in vogue. The smash success of Myst opened up publisher’s
wallets to fund the development of an exploding number of other adventure games. Some borrowed
from the grittier, more mature, minimalistic, and more immersive feel of Myst. Others borrowed
from the cartoonier, comedic feel of LucasArts. There were lots of FMV games like the Tex
Murphy series and Toonstruck, starring Christopher Lloyd for some reason. But there were a lot
of games clearly made to chase trends, too. Even Sierra wasn’t immune to the draw towards
a darker, grittier adventure game. They released Gabriel Knight, which was pretty good, and
Phantasmagoria, which… wasn’t. Though it did sell very well. Myst was even popular
enough for someone to pay John Goodman to star in a direct parody game, Pyst. John Goodman: ‘Hello there! I’m King Mattress, ruler of Pyst! And I know who you are.’ Yeah, this was on every computer store shelf in 1996. With so many adventure games coming out in
such a short time, it’s surprising how static the core design was. The engines that helped
Sierra and LucasArts make games very quickly did so by allowing them to put new scenery
and objects over the same mechanics, game after game. So adventure games stayed what they were. Sierra and LucasArts built empires on that
design, so why rock the boat? But the competition was catching up fast. Bit by bit, other genres
were putting in their own cutting edge graphics and complex storytelling. This was the era
of Half Life, Diablo, and Starcraft. Of Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, and Ocarina of
Time. Adventure games couldn’t stand alone as the best the medium had to offer anymore,
and the public interest started to drift away. The flaws in the games were more apparent,
and the gameplay was so static that the entire genre was practically DEFINED by its mechanics.
The perspective and framing of the story. The point-and-click gameplay. The obtuse puzzles.
The pixel hunting. None of it was aging well. The genre was about to collapse. By 1998, even Grim Fandango, perhaps LucasArts’ greatest critical success and finest adventure
game title overall, sold terribly. The people that had in years past bought King’s Quest,
Monkey Island, and Myst could now buy lots of high quality first-person shooters, strategy
games, RPGs, and action-adventure games. The years of stagnation in the point-and-click
gameplay design and the competition from other games in the graphics and storytelling departments
sapped much of the drawing power of what had made the genre so popular in the first place.
The adventure games being made at the end of the 90s weren’t bad games, of course,
they just weren’t groundbreaking anymore. Plus, the increase in art resources that top-tier
adventure games now demanded made each game much more expensive to make. Publishers saw
sales take a dip, and became very skittish about funding new adventure games. The last
few that were in development were allowed to finish, but they didn’t fare much better
than Grim Fandango. Publishers looking forward could reasonably project sales to continue
to be low, so it didn’t make much sense to allocate enough money to make a big-budget
adventure game. They could use that money to fund a game in another more popular genre
instead. Sequels to Sam and Max and Full Throttle were canceled. Without the budget to make
a new top-tier 3D adventure game the flow of new ones slowed to a crawl until they practically
disappeared. The public perception of decline fed on itself, and the adventure game was
cemented as a dead genre. But… was it? Next time on Design Doc: modern adventure
games. Japanese adventure games keep rolling. Kickstarter funds a wave of throwbacks. The
meteoric rise and fall of Telltale, and indies make the genre go supernova. *chill vibes outro from Space Quest*

64 thoughts on “Classic Adventure Games – How Sierra and LucasArts Designed a Genre. How Stagnation Almost Ended It

  1. List of games featured (in order of first appearance)

    0:08 Phoenix Wright: Justice for All
    0:12 Street Fighter 2
    0:15 King of Fighters 96
    0:16 Tekken 3
    0:17 Fatal Fury Wild Ambition
    0:18 Street Fighter EX 3
    0:21 Streets of Rage 2
    0:23 Pilotwings
    0:25 Starcraft
    0:28 DOTA 2
    0:32 A Hat in Time
    0:37 Full Throttle
    0:41 Zork
    0:44 Kings Quest
    0:48 Monkey Island 2
    0:50 Escape from Monkey Island
    0:51 Telltale's The Walking Dead Season 1
    0:53 Space Quest
    0:56 Grim Fandango
    0:59 Day of the Tentacle
    1:02 King's Quest 3
    1:55 Pong
    1:57 Breakout
    2:01 Space Race
    2:04 Computer Space
    2:07 Colossal Cave Adventure
    2:47 Space Invaders
    2:48 Pitfall
    2:59 Planetfall
    3:01 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    3:10 The Hobbit
    3:34 Mystery House
    5:53 Police quest
    5:55 Mixed-Up Mother Goose
    6:01 Black Cauldron
    6:04 Space Quest 3
    6:45 Legends of Star Arthur: Planet Mephius
    7:01 Nightshade
    7:13 Labyrinth
    7:28 Maniac Mansion
    8:12 Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
    8:17 Putt-Putt Joins the Parade
    8:20 Pajama Sam: No Need To Hide When It's Dark Outside
    9:05 King's Quest 5
    9:18 Monkey Island 1
    9:34 King's Quest 6
    10:24 Sam & Max Hit the Road
    10:32 King's Quest 4
    10:46 Monkey Island 3
    10:49 King's Quest 1 (1990 Remake)
    11:12 Sonic CD
    11:20 Myst
    12:42 Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon
    12:49 Tex Murphy: Overseer
    12:55 Toonstruck
    13:10 Gabriel Knight
    13:16 Phantasmagoria
    13:27 Pyst
    14:05 Zelda: Ocarina of Time
    14:11 Diablo
    14:14 Metal Gear Solid
    14:27 Space Quest 4
    16:21 Broken Age
    16:27 Machinarium

  2. While Adventure is certainly defining to the genre, calling it the first known example of interaction fiction is giving it a bit too much credit. Hunt the Wumpus in 1973 was earlier, and featured an (albeit simpler) plot of hunting the Wumpus while the Wumpus was trying to hunt them. What is considered the "absolute first" is a bit of a tricky question, since programs like ELIZA and SHRDLU use the conventions of text adventures to varying degrees, and even feature a character of sorts, though they weren't explicitly created for entertainment. ELIZA (1964) is potentially the first to include a parser, while SHRDLU (1968) was possibly the first to feature a simulated environment that the player could interact with and change.

  3. Very enjoyable video, thanks.

    I wonder if you'll talk about daedalic in the next video. They somehow managed to become a decently sized publisher by making classic adventure games in the 2010s.

  4. I always thought "Adventure Games" referred to games like the Legend of Zelda, with "Point and Click" being just another genra

  5. No mention of the Quest for Glory series? I really, really do wish that series would get more attention, they combined the classic point-and-click gameplay with RPG mechanics and a class system so your approach to puzzles varied based on your character build. A thief could pick a lock, but a magic user would cast an Open spell, or a fighter would just smash the lock with brute strength. Every puzzle could be approached in different ways so that each of the three archetypes could solve them differently. There's a spiritual successor on Steam called Heroine's Quest, I highly recommend it. There's also a phenomenal free fan remake of Quest for Glory 2, and all the official games are on GoG. Seriously, these games were amazing and deserve more of a following.

  6. Mysterious Island


    Edit: Also, seems like Adventure Games' death can be explained in the same way most saturated things in consumer products can: they made too much of the same thing too quickly in order to capitalize on a thing they could made but couldn't manage properly.

  7. Please tell me you're going to mention flash games like Detective Grimoire and Slacker in the next episode. I loved those games.

  8. Dude! Some of my first ever gaming experiences were with Kings Quest IV and Police Quest on my grandpa’s PC. I was terrible at them but kept playing because the feeling of typing those magic words just doesn’t compare to a multiple choice system. Point-and-click sort of ruined it for me, like I’m not big on pixel-hunting compared to thinking abstractly about possibilities. I liked The Walking Dead for its story, but the gaming experience still doesn’t compare to those old Roberta Williams joints. 

    Thanks for doing this, looking forward to the next one!

  9. Fun fact, theses kinds of game were so defined by their gameplay mecanics, that it has become the name of the genra in France : "Point and Click". Il've learned in this video that this wasn't the actual english of the genra. ^^

  10. If you're planning on doing more of these genre history videos (please do) I'd say that the computer RPG would be a pretty good topic to follow this one with.

  11. It's interesting seeing the history of these games and how the genre eventually fell apart due to stagnation. I know there Are some current adventure games like Hiveswap (which plays up its own appreciation of the 90's in general with its aesthetic) but it was completely bogged down by a botched Kickstarter/development funding, a lack of developer communication, and the 2015 King's Quest game that was made using Hiveswap's stolen money which I believe had good reviews, but I never personally checked it out due to the shadiness of said funding. But yeah, it's interesting seeing the effects of gaming's earliest genres unfold into it's current mainstays and how storytelling evolved since then with visual novels and whatnot. Point and click may no longer be relevant but it certainly was important.

  12. I know you obviously can't show them all off, but I was still a bit disappointed that the Neverhood was nowhere to be seen 🙂

  13. I hope the next episode touched a bit on YU-NO. It is arguably the most influential and ambitious adventure games in Japan, and while it did not influence a longlasting survival of (pure) adventure games in general (with some very big exceptions which you have teased), it influenced the adult adventure games game (later transforming into visual novel) genre to totally shift from basically a medium for cheap & short porn novella to a genre which also demands long, strong, and ambitious narrative alongside the lighter ones. The influence also expands beyond the game industry into anime, manga, and novel landscape we have today.

  14. Undertale must be in this series of videos since it isn't an RPG, is a graphic adventure, it's just about decitions and read, just like every single graphic adventure.

  15. I always heard the "adventure games" being referred to specifically as "point and click adventure" instead. This is actually the first time I see it being referred to as adventure games.

  16. I've been gaming all my life. I've played most of all the classics throughout the last 3 decades. I consume everything from shooters, RPGs, walking simulators, Metroidvanias, platformers, strategy, roguelikes, collect-a-thons, extreme sports, horror, all with no particular preference in console.
    But adventure games have always had a special place in my heart. Blade Runner was the first ever PC game I bought with my own money. Myst and it's sequel Riven took me the better half of a decade to finally finish. The Dig has transported me countless times to another world I can get utterly immersed in. And Grim Fandango still remains my favourite game (and story) of all time.
    I learned to read english by playing these games. They helped me through rough times, they've helped me relax. They challenge me in ways almost no other games have managed to. And what I absolutely love, is that the genre keeps on evolving, while at the same time staying true to its roots. I adore adventure games. They will never die.

  17. One game company I think managed to survive the “death of adventure games” was HerInteractive and their Nancy Drew series. Somehow, this small team managed to release about two games per year and maintain are, overall, good. I’m just excited about their newest one coming up this year after FIVE YEARS in development hell. Lol

  18. I feel like Adventure Game Puzzle Logic could (and should) be an episode all on its own; the Adventure Genre had a lot of brilliant examples of badly designed puzzles, and not just because they borked your save without warning.
    Some common offenses:
    -having to die to work out what to do next (King's Quest V)
    -doing things no sane/decent person ever would (Mystery of the Druids),
    -using gamey logic: your character doesn't have a clearly defined objective so you just wander around solving puzzles (happened a lot in King's Quest VI)
    -using moon logic (The infamous cat-hair moustache disguise from Gabriel Knight 4),
    -being incredibly tedious (The sliding block puzzles that just about everyone thought were a good idea).

  19. This was really nice to see, is a bit sad that many of these games are very difficult to play now, even with emulation 🙁

    And please, you need to mention The Cat Lady (from harvester games) on the next video <3
    There's also a little game which pay homage of those ancient text adventures, and put a bit of terror too, called An Abandon House, is short but absolutely great

  20. Meanwhile, over on the non-commercial side, in 1993, Inform was released, a freeware development system for developing z-code text adventures (Infocom, the company that produced Zork, among other games, invented and used z-code for their games), along with Curses, one of the key games in the history of the non-commercial side of the interactive fiction genre. It's been a while since I last dipped my toe into the scene, but a decade ago there was still a thriving niche.

  21. personally, i've always felt that the rise of the internet is what led to the downfall of adventure games…when everyone has a hint book at their fingertips whenever they want, a game that should take you weeks will be over in a single afternoon, and will be deeply unsatisfying because you looked up all the puzzle solutions.

  22. I hope you have a look at games like thimbleweed park and trübberbrook in the second part, they are definetely worth a look! 🙂

  23. Honestly, back in 95. I only saw old people playing those games. Like stuck up stiff people.
    So i never even attempted to play those games. Because i was kind of disgusted by it.
    It's like stereotyping by association without even knowing it.
    Like, why would i even, when there's a Playstation 1 with all their awesome games!!!

  24. did you really forget to mention Westwoods The Legend of Kyrandia, The Legend of Kyrandia: Hand of Fate and The Legend of Kyrandia: Malcolm's Revenge


  25. Glad Loom (1990) at least got a mention. Brian Moriarty (who was my academic advisor at college) really did a great job with it. It's a game in which most of the traditional point-and-click puzzles are replaced with a musical distaff that you played various tunes on to produce different magical effects. I remember him saying (I think only half in jest) that Ocarina of Time had stolen this mechanic from him.

  26. Few notes from someone who lived thru both the classic adventure game heyday and the eventual decline:

    Text vs. Point-&-Click: so, while obviously point-&-click is much, much more accessible, and recognizing that the old text based implementations were hella limited; the thing is point-&-click directly led to the pixel hunting trope, and the negative stereotype of randomly combining everything in your inventory as a means of brute-forcing your way thru insensible & illogical puzzles. You couldn't really pixel hunt with the old text interfaces… you had to actually observe the game environment, and make guesses about what could be interacted with/acquired and how. Perhaps if developers hadn't been quite so quick to move en-mass to the point-&-click style the classic genre might have had a bit more legs.

    It's also notable that data storage was one hell of a massive technical problem back in the day… it negatively impacted a lot of western JRPG releases, where lots of dialog/narrative had to be cut from localized releases b/c they simply couldn't store all the raw translated text in a non-iconographic script… and it is safe to say it probably had an effect on narrative design for the story-heavy adventure genre too. A hypothetical modern-day remake of the AGI-engine style games would be more than capable of avoiding the limits of the original genre entries.. with the primary limit really being paying the folks writing the material.

    Competing genres: One aspect to emphasize in particular is that the RPG genre… both CRPGs & JRPGs, was largely contemporary with the classic adventure game heyday… and to put it simply by the time the 90s rolled around RPG games were delivering an equivalent quality experience in terms of narrative but paired with more interesting and complex gameplay as well as graphics. In the video you showed titles like Metal Gear Solid and Ocarina of Time.. which were all late 90s/early 00s… but the thing is that the killer combination of tactical gameplay + deep narrative had already been achieved way back in 1991/92 with titles ala Final Fantasy 4 & Paladin's Quest… FF4 especially as that game already had optional side quests, which have never really been a thing with the very linear narrative of classic adventure games.

    It didn't decline everywhere: The classic iterations of the genre survived significantly longer in Europe, something which in turn actually led into the indie revival. A lot of the adventure-game focused indie studios are German & French… and there is a reason for that.

  27. Great intro into a wonderful genre of gaming.

    I hope the second part will give some attention to recent point-and-click games developed by Pendulo Studios. Especially 'Yesterday Origins', 'The Next BIG Thing', and 'Runaway: a Twist of Fate' are nostalgically good.

  28. Amazing video! I love adventure games, so this was just what I needed 😛

    I was actually really surprised that Grim Fandango had such bad sales, it's probably my favourite (relatively) old adventure game. The story is incredible, and the way it's split into 4 years really immerses the player. Not to mention some INCREDIBLE characters and voice actors, I lost hours in this game. The remaster is also really well done, and gives us a chance to revisit some great stories and characters in modern-day graphics. It also had an incredible designed environment, my favourite being Rubacava. Sure, some of the puzzles were… illogical… but most were pretty good and could be done easily if you thought about it. Overall I think it's an amazing game, and I wish it got more of a recognition.

    Now, on a separate note, I have a question: will you be covering games like the Runaway series (the best point-and-click adventure games of ALL TIME btw) and "The Next Big Thing"? If not I think you really should, they have great puzzles and good humour, and definitely deserve at least an honourable mention.

    Anyways, thank you for reading this! I love your videos, they are all really well-made, I can't wait for the next one! 😀

  29. I think leaving out that Douglas Adams wrote the text for the Hitchhiker's adaptation is kind of a big thing to omit (…Along with… Most… versions of H2G2 actually – The original radio play, the novel that it's most known as being, the tv show, the text adventure… I think it's only the film that he didn't write. Also not the only adventure game he wrote, Starship Atlantis was his as well.)

    I'm a bit sad you didn't touch on the bizarre adventure/platformer hybrids that were the Dizzy franchise, but… That's mainly a British thing, with very little impact outside of itself, so it's not entirely surprising you didn't.

    There are some advantages to text parsers over the generally better GUI approaches that basically treat verbs as a second inventory system – the solution to Photopia's maze is a great example (when you remove your space suit because it's power dies, the game reveals you have wings, the logical deduction being that you can fly – a puzzle that only works with a text parser, any other UI and it's a story beat without a puzzle). Outside of that, verb lists that you interact with in the same way you interact with your inventory is generally a better approach, though it's harder to have objects you can interact with in multiple ways if you only have e.g. one 'use' command compared to four or five specific verbs for how you want to use things, and beyond a half dozen verbs (Also – hunt the pixel is far more aggravating than guess the verb/noun, at least to me, but there are easier UX fixes for that than a help list)

  30. Adventure didn't "die" due to "stagnation." The problem was the opposite–they spend their budgets chasing new technology, trying to update into 3D, and ended up making objectively ugly, hard-to-play games that skimped on art, writing, and play. Which is why the genre has been revitalized by going back to basics, and often even replicating the earlier, EGA/VGA style of graphics and non-CD quality sound and music.

    So much of this video is junk opinion not rooted in history. Myst wasn't the "killer app" for CD-ROM–The 7th Guest was. Myst was purchased by most owners of CD-ROM drives, but 7th Guest was why they bought the drives in the first place. And people didn't opt not to buy Sierra or LucasArts adventure games because they bought Myst instead, Myst appealed to the new demographic, the new gamers, the kind of people whose first PC was a Gateway with a CD drive pre-installed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *